A possible operational system scenario for providing satellite communications services to the future aviation community was analyzed. The system concept relies on a Ka-band (20/30 GHz) satellite that utilizes multibeam antenna (MBA) technology. The aircraft terminal uses an extremely small aperture antenna as a result of using this higher spectrum at Ka-band. The satellite functions as a relay between the aircraft and the ground stations. The ground stations function as interfaces to the existing terrestrial networks such as the Public Service Telephone Network (PSTN). Various system tradeoffs are first examined to ensure optimized system parameters. High level performance specifications and design approaches are generated for the space, ground, and aeronautical elements in the system. Both technical and economical issues affecting the feasibility of the studied concept are addressed with the 1995 timeframe in mind.